Anybody have any inspiring stories?


New Member
Hi everyone, I am new to this site, and I am noticing that most of us are here because we are absolutely at our wit's end with what's going on in our homes. Is there anyone who has an inspiring story of a child/family who managed to turn it around and function well again? I am facing the prospect of the difficult child re-entering my home after some time in a residential facility. I don't think she made a lot of progress in there, and I am so scared for the future. I don't want to go back to feeling like a prisoner in my own home. Can anyone share a story with a more hopeful ending?


member since 1999
Hi Katie and welcome -

I'm so sorry you've had to go the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) route. I can share a good outcome, but .... it took my son well past your daughter's age to get it together.

My challenging kid was challenging from about 18 months. It progressed to really breath-taking violence, both here and at school. I won't rehash it all - I suspect you know how horrific it was around here.

Long story short, he left home at age 9 and returned at age 20. Three RTCs, 1 transitional living program (supposed to teach life skills, but.... it was a terrible program), I stopped counting hospitalizations at 25 (I think he got above 30, all said and done), high school drop out, drugs, living on street, lost Residential Treatment Center (RTC) funding at age 18, no contact with him by his choice for about 6 months immediately following turning 18, during which time I was just waiting for a call from Chicago coroner.... by far the darkest time for us, not that the preceding years were terribly light, LOL.

But.... the light bulb went off for him at around age 20 and he was willing to come home and follow rules (no violence, no drugs, no sex in house, get a job and/or go to school). I did not make therapy/medication a condition - I figured after 16 years of therapy, it had either sunk in or not. And I was not willing to be the medication police. Basically, he had to be a functional human being. And he was....

He got his GED and then started community college. Things got a bit derailed when his girlfriend committed suicide when he was 21... a heck of a trauma for all of us, but understandably it just devastated him. But... he stayed off of street drugs, and eventually went back to school to become an EMT. Even went back to therapy and did medications for a while.

He's 25 now. He is an EMT, planning on going back to get his paramedic license this fall. He is an absolute delight - truly. Still living at home, paying off some debts from a couple of abortive attempts at living on his own between age 21 and 23, but.... he is unrecognizable compared to who he was 15 years ago. The violence hasn't been an issue since about age 16 (though I must admit, I'm really not sure what went on when he was living on the streets). He is a contributing member of society. He is responsible. He is incredibly loving to his family. He has come so much farther than we ever expected.

A very wise therapist told us a long long time ago that my son would only change his behavior when it became too expensive for him to stay the way he was. Unfortunately, my kiddo had a really *huge* budget when it came to misery. Being in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was nothing for him. No big deal.

We worked hard to maintain contact through all of his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) settings, but there also came a time when I said enough was enough - no more "family therapy", no more putting up with his abuse during a visit, I was done. Therapy with siblings stopped when he was about 13 due to some really abusive behavior from my son towards his sibs.... I stopped the family therapy with parents on one of his last admissions (I think he was 17) - enough was enough. And as terrified as I was (we're talking I cried daily for over 6 months, no joke) about his chances of survival once he hit 18, I wasn't willing to sacrifice my other kids just to have him home.

Honestly, I did not expect him to survive to this age, much less be thriving - with appropriate social relationships and a good job where he is very respected. But he has. Best of all is he is loving and sweet and just a miracle as far as I'm concerned.

It is a very long road. Thirteen is still so young, and of course it's concerning that she's being discharged due to insurance issues as opposed to real progress. My best advice would be consistency, boundaries, follow through (especially on violence - that is such a hot button for me - any violence whatsoever should result in 911 call with request to transport mentally ill child for psychiatric evaluation (as opposed to arrest)), a safety plan for everyone in the family, therapy for daughter, as many extracurricular activities as possible, mentoring for her, respite for you, etc. I hope Residential Treatment Center (RTC) has done discharge planning with your family including these issues. I would also see if there is any state funding for services - dept. of mental health, etc. You have an at-risk kiddo - call everyone.

She had a lousy start to life, probably has some inherited issues as well as environmental from bio-mom. She needs supports, but at the same time you have the absolute right to feel safe in your own home. It's a very fine line to walk.... but I firmly believe that there is hope where there is life. I think some of our kids take longer to "cook." You may have a few more rocky years, but you might also not... impossible to predict. All of our kids are different.


Well-Known Member
Hi, Katie.

My darling daughter Miss KT was a challenge from the get-go. I carried her in a front carrier for weeks. She had horrible colic. She was intense. To add to the mix, her father (aka Useless Boy) was little help/support, and I had a demanding job with a one-way commute of nearly 2 hours.

I threw up my hands, requested a demotion, and we moved back to our hometown, where all the grandparents were. Continued intensity from Miss KT, like throwing herself on the floor hard enough to make her nose bleed at 18 months. Continued uselessness from her father, and we finally divorced. Then I had to ride herd on her and go to work and do everything else by myself.

Job change, bought a house, job loss...Miss KT started kindergarten and was - you guessed it - intense. She was fast and loud and just never let up, almost relentless. We struggled along for a couple of years, I remarried, and her fourth grade teacher suggested she be screened for ADHD. Textbook case. We struggled with finding the right balance of medications, changing when they stopped working, trying different ones, until she hit about 14.

She became total hell to live with. Demonic. Talked about stabbing people while they slept. I did not sleep at night. She'd slammed her bedroom door so many times it was hanging by a thread, and one day, she tore the door off and threw it at me. She ran my toothbrush through the toilet that she'd left backed up with a massive poop. We called the cops on her, and it seemed to make an impression for a while. She sold the city bus pass we got her, so I stopped buying them. She threw her lunch in the trash before even leaving the yard, I stopped fixing them. I would occasionally give her a ride to school if I happened to be running errands, but one day we made it three blocks from the house when she started up and I told her to get out.

I finally told her she was killing me and needed to go live with her father for the summer. Not permanently, we're in a much much much better school district. She proceeded to call my mother and cry that I'd thrown her out. She lived with my mom for nearly a year.

When she moved home, she had become, for the most part, a civilized person. medication compliant, helped around the house, polite and pleasant, neat and clean...graduated high school, did one year at junior college here and then transferred to a college in Santa Cruz. Spent a year there, until the college shut down, and decided to transfer to a college in Portland, Oregon. It took her a while to settle in, but she made friends, got involved with school activities, found a job, met her husband, graduated from college, got married, got a job...

She's been in Portland for almost five years, and she loves it. I'm happy for her. I do miss seeing her, but honestly, I didn't want her staying in our little nothing town, even for college. All of this is to say that yes, Katie, there is hope. Get the right supports in place (for Miss KT, it was insisting that she be allowed to graduate on the state requirements, not the no child left behind ones the district wanted) and read every scrap of paper that comes home, especially at the beginning of the school year.


Shooting from the Hip
Oh, hon, HUGS and welcome. I'm hoping you can find some support here!

Belle, my lovely girl. She was my reason for finding the CD board back in 2009. She was 13 then. The crazy behavior, the threats, the violence, the stealing, the feeling of not being welcome in my own home, despite the fact that I was the foundation. Then the drugs and alcohol, escalation, private foster care, jail, Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Hospitalizations, counseling, finally she got out of my car on the freeway a short 2 weeks after her 18th birthday and Bill refused to let her return.

Her bio mother was a huge part of it - verbal, physical, sexual abuse, her baby sister (not Bill's child) died at 9 months old... Then her mother passed away unexpectedly in 2011. Things changed then. At first, for the worse.

Then... Then she went to jail and realized she needed her family... But she was still using, and we would not enable that. She ended up violating probation and went to prison for one year. The horrible juxtaposition of her safety - we knew where she was and that she was alive - and her vulnerability - PRISON. She came out the other side of the razor wire fence sober and with a new appreciation for what we had done.

She still makes mistakes, don't get me wrong. But 18 months out, and she is on her own, good job, stable relationship, and 7 months pregnant (and he is a healthy boy, so far!). She's 21 now, and her mistakes are more the kind every young adult might make.

With what your SD has been through, there will be a lot of anger, a lot of craziness. Don't ever give up on her. That doesn't mean you have to be a prisoner, but if you love her (and I've a feeling you wouldn't be here if you didn't care)... Let her know. Let her know you care, but you won't enable her. And protect yourself, of course.

HUGS - it was a long road to now, and it's still going on, just not a barren, desolate wasteland anymore. Now we have flowers and trees!

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
My son was the reason for me finding this board. I came here in the middle of the night in 2004. My son was violent and had absolutely no impulse control. At one point I was pushed down a flight of stairs by my son. He was hospitalized 6 times. At his last hospitalization they said if the new medication didn't help him they would recommend an out of home placement. We walked on eggshells for years. I took the brunt of his violence and have numerous scars.

Fast forward to now- he is 19 and although he still struggles and always will, he is a different kid. He is doing so well compared to where he was. He has not been violent in several years (around 5 years). He will always struggle but he has come so far beyond everyone's expectations. We are so incredibly proud of him and all he has accomplished (which is not to say he doesn't still drive me crazy at times). He is on the "out team" at his school until he is 21. He works two jobs and volunteers three days a week at a senior citizen center. This is all arranged through his case manager but he puts in the time!

Years ago, I thought he might end up in prison or on drugs. He is doing beautifully! There is hope.


Roll With It
My son was a delight and a nightmare, sometimes all at the same time. We had a 4 month psychiatric hospital stay and then he was home for 2 years before he spun out of all control. Then I was about to send him to a Boy's Home an hour away when my dad asked for a chance to turn things around. My dad had just retired from over 30 years of teaching the worst junior high kids his districts had. My son was in junior high. He moved to my parents house 10 min away and I think over time they just wore him down. Not to say it went smoothly, but by around 18 he became a joy to be around.

At age 22 he even apologized for all the things he did to hurt me. I have always had serious health problems and my son donated a significant portion of his monthly wages to a research group to help figure out a cure for the health problems. He felt so bad because he did things purposely to make me hurt physically when he was a kid. I told him over and over that I forgave him years ago, but he did that anyway. Now he is 25 and is working full time (has since he got out of high school at the same place basically), got a fairly big promotion at work so he is making a career of it. He is an avid D&D type gamer and just LOVES to have his little bro and his dad join him. He even likes having his sister join them except he growls at his friends for wanting to go out with her, lol! He is sweet, loving, a protective older brother, and will do just anything for any of us. He knows his limits and that some things really would set him off, so he avoids those. He has his father's off kilter sense of humor which delights us all, and we could not be prouder of him.

There is hope, but it may take years to realize that it really can get better.


Well-Known Member
We are not making any progress with SS #1, but SS #2 (who has his issues, but nowhere close to those of SS#1) spent part of the weekend with us, including an overnight, and it went well. It was the first time we had seen him in two months, when both boys began to boycott their scheduled biweekly overnight visits with us.

We are hopeful that the estrangement between SS#2 and us is over for good. We credit a skilled therapist for working with SS#2, my wife and her ex-husband. Without this intervention we would not be at this point.

I post here because of issues with SS#1, and that situation is for the moment unchanged, but to see positive movement with SS#2 is really encouraging and makes us very happy. He is a great kid in a bad situation and he's doing his best to cope. He doesn't have SS#1's mental health issues and for that we are very grateful.

SS#1 is starting to realize that there are consequences for his choices - he is being shunned by family members of my wife, who have always been very good/generous with him, due to his defiant attitude and refusal to cooperate with anyone. He has been told that until he acknowledges that my wife is his mother and becomes willing to treat her respectfully, engage in therapy to improve the relationship, etc. that they will not buy his back to school clothes, take him out for meals, etc. His birthday is coming up and he will be in for another shock if he expects a celebration and presents. They are not forthcoming unless the situation begins to change.